Family of Melissa Highsmith, Texas toddler kidnapped over 50 years ago, closes in on answers

In September, an anonymous tipster reported a potential sighting of a woman in Charleston, South Carolina, who may have left missing as a baby from their home in Texas 51 years ago.

Now the family of missing Melissa Highsmith has renewed hope that she is alive and well today – but they must keep her name out in case there are any other possible sightings.

“We feel like we’re going in the right direction,” Jeff Highsmith, Melissa’s 42-year-old brother, told Fox News Digital about the search for his sister more than five decades after her disappearance. “We’re getting closer to finding out where she is and what’s going on.”

Melissa disappeared from Fort Worth, Texas on August 23, 1971 when she was just 21 months old, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which worked with the Highsmith family to find Melissa and save face – a digitally aged face – in the news.

FAMILY OF MELISSA HIGHSMITH, TEXAS TODDLER TAKEN IN 1971, REPEAT THE SEARCH FOR POSSIBLE SIGHTING 51 YEARS LATER

Photo shows Melissa Highsmith as a baby and a colorized image of what Melissa Highsmith might look like now

Photo shows Melissa Highsmith as a baby and a colorized image of what Melissa Highsmith might look like now
(National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

On November 6, for Melissa’s 53rd birthday, the Highsmith family threw a “celebration of life” for Melissa at the local police station, not far from where she was kidnapped all those years ago.

SOUTH CAROLINA TIPSTER REPORTS SIGHTING OF MISSING MELISSA HIGHSMITH WHO DISAPPEARED FROM TEXAS 51 YEARS AGO

The Highsmith family also traveled from Texas to Charleston in October to speak to local people about the case and raise awareness.

Melissa Highsmith's family held a memorial in front of the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex in Fort Worth, TX on her 53rd birthday.  Photo: Victoria Garner (sister), Jeffrie Highsmith (brother), Mellissa Robinson (family member).

Melissa Highsmith’s family held a memorial in front of the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex in Fort Worth, TX on her 53rd birthday. Photo: Victoria Garner (sister), Jeffrie Highsmith (brother), Mellissa Robinson (family member).
(James Breeden for Fox News Digital)

“We believe the trip to Charleston was a good success. We’ve been able to network with some great local people,” said Jeff. “Two of the ladies we met while we were down there continue to try to raise awareness of them in this area.”

The case has drawn media attention in both Texas and South Carolina.

Die Mutter von Jeff und Melissa, Alta, die kürzlich getrennt wurde, als sie nach <u>fort worth</u> and worked as a waitress in the 1970s, had placed an ad in the local paper for a babysitter to look after Melissa – her firstborn – at the time. “/></source></source></source></source></picture></div>
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Jeff and Melissa’s mother, Alta, who recently got separated when she fort worth and worked as a waitress in the 1970s, had placed an ad in the local paper for a babysitter to look after Melissa – her firstborn – at the time.
(Jeff Highsmith)

“People who live in the area are quite familiar with the case now. Since we got back we’ve had four different leads that we have someone to follow up on,” Jeff said of the trip to South Carolina.

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Jeff and Melissa’s mother, Alta, who recently got separated when she moved here fort worth and worked as a waitress in the 1970s, having placed an ad in the local paper for a babysitter to babysit Melissa, their firstborn. A woman responded to the ad and agreed to meet Alta at the restaurant where the young mother worked but never showed up.

Later the prospects Babysitter named Alta and expressed interest in the job, saying she has a large garden and takes care of other children.

MISSING CALIFORNIA YOUTH, TRINITY BACKUS, FOUND DEAD, CONFIRMED THE OFFICE OF THE SHERIFF

Alta hired the babysitter who picked up the 21-month-old toddler when she was in the care of Alta’s roommate while the young mother was a waitress.

Melissa Highsmith's family provided this photo of her as a baby.  Highsmith disappeared from Fort Worth, Texas on August 23, 1971 when she was just 21 months old.

Melissa Highsmith’s family provided this photo of her as a baby. Highsmith disappeared from Fort Worth, Texas on August 23, 1971 when she was just 21 months old.
(Provided by the family at Fox News Digital)

The roommate told authorities the woman who picked up Melissa was wearing white gloves, sunglasses and a hood around her head in Texas in mid-August, Jeff explained.

“These things just don’t make sense to me,” he said, adding that his mother’s roommate hasn’t responded to questions from the family since they got together to discuss the case over coffee in 2019.

Melissa Highsmith disappeared in 1971 at the age of 21 months.

Melissa Highsmith disappeared in 1971 at the age of 21 months.
(Jeff Highsmith)

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Highsmith had not been seen since Her mother called the police on the day she disappeared in 1971. Jeff has his own theories as to what happened and believes she may have been kidnapped and sold to an adoptive family, although authorities have not confirmed this narrative.

NCMEC encourages anyone with information to contact 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

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